Checklist: Important Items to Review with Your Attorney

The authority to act for another person in specified or all legal or financial matters. For a power of attorney to become a legally enforceable document, at a minimum it must be signed and dated by the principal. Some jurisdictions also require that a power of attorney be witnessed, notarized, or both. Even when not required, having the document reviewed and signed (and often stamped) by a notary public may increase the likelihood of withstanding a legal challenge. A Power of Attorney is only valid during the life of the person giving the authority.

An advanced healthcare directive, also known as a living will, personal directive, advanced directive, medical directive or advanced decision, is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity.

A document or legal instrument with which an individual appoints someone to legally make healthcare decisions on behalf of the patient, when the patient is incapable of making and executing the healthcare decisions stipulated in the proxy. Once the healthcare proxy is effective, the agent continues making healthcare decisions as long as the primary individual is legally incompetent to decide.

A person who looks after and is legally responsible for the property of someone who is unable to manage their own affairs, usually an incompetent or disabled person or a minor child whose parents have died. An alternate guardian or successor guardian should be named in case the first appointed guardian is unable or unwilling to serve as guardian. A successor guardian usually has the same duties and powers as the previous guardian.

An individual appointed to administer the estate of a deceased person. The executor’s main duty is to carry out the instructions to manage the affairs and wishes of the deceased person’s estate. The executor is appointed either by the testator of the will (the individual who makes the will) or by a court, in cases wherein there was no prior appointment.

When executing updated and properly drafted wills and trusts you want to coordinate the titling of property so that it correlates with the objectives of your estate planning documents. This would address how real estate, marketable securities, checking/savings accounts and brokerage accounts should be held. If titled incorrectly, it could negate the purpose of the new testamentary documents.